Turkey Saturday warned against “provocative acts” ahead of talks between Russia and the United States next week to quell tensions over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border.
NATO, of which Turkey is a member, has warned of real risks that Russia will invade Ukraine after Moscow amassed tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border.
High-ranking American and Russian diplomats will meet on Monday in Geneva after Moscow laid down a list of demands for Washington and NATO.
Russia will then meet on Wednesday with all 30 NATO members — the first such encounter since July 2019.
“Our hope is that tensions between Ukraine and Russia, between Russia and NATO, are resolved through peaceful means,” Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar said.
“Let’s not increase tensions, let’s avoid provocative acts or acts that can be viewed as provocative,” Akar said during a briefing in Ankara.
“That’s why we tell our interlocutors repeatedly that it is very important to act with caution.”
The Turkish minister also hit out at what he suggested was an “open or covert” arms embargo against Turkey by its NATO allies, without naming any country.
“The weakening of the Turkish armed forces means a weakening of NATO,” he told reporters.
Canada blocked military arms exports to Turkey in April last year after a probe found Canadian drone technology exported to Turkey had been used by Azerbaijan in clashes with Armenia.
Before that in 2020, the United States hit Turkey’s military procurement agency with sanctions over Ankara’s controversial purchase of a Russian missile defence system.
Akar also said Ankara was ready to help the authorities in Kazakhstan, after protests in the ex-Soviet country over rising fuel prices erupted into widespread violence.
Turkey has sought closer ties with Turkic-speaking Central Asian states such as Kazakhstan since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
“We’re ready to give any kind of help and support to our Kazakh brothers and sisters, should we receive a request,” Akar said.
“Kazakhstan is an important ally of ours. There must be peace and order as soon as possible,” he added.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has already sought help from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a military alliance of ex-Soviet states led by Russia.
It is not clear how many troops are being sent in the force — which includes units from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan — but media in Moscow have said the Russian contingent is expected to number less than 5,000.